Does the title of this article feel somewhat like clickbait?
Eh, maybe a little. Although I will say that I know many professional women who struggle with this very question, on some level. As singles, some lookup in their late 30s-early 40s and wonder where the time went as they spent so much time being solely focused on developing their career. As married women, sometimes, one’s relationship finds itself on life support because cultivating a balance between one’s professional and personal life can be a walk on one of the tightest ropes—ever.!
In either instance, is it fair to wonder if loving one’s job over a man—or the possibility of being in something long-term with a man—is the core issue? OK, inset another “eh” here. As I’m sure most of us know, there are different kinds of love. So, to say that your “love” for your job is the same as your “love” for another human being—that is pretty close to insane. At the same time, though, because another literal textbook definition of love is “a profound personal attachment” and that could easily apply to either dynamic, I think it’s important to ask yourself the following five questions—just so that you can be clear about where you (actually) stand.
Which gets more of your desire?
When it comes to your career vs. your man (or your wish to have a man which is what you can factor in with every question from here on out), which do you desire more at the present time? Is it more important that get promoted and/or get your business off of the ground in the next six months or that your relationship becomes stronger and you and your partner get closer?
If your first inclination is to reply with “Why can’t I have both?”, no one is saying that you can’t. However, contrary to popular belief, most of us cannot multitask as well as we think we can, so if push comes to shove and something has to suffer—which are you gonna choose? “Desire” is a powerful word because it speaks to what you truly long for. If someone said you could only choose for your career or relationship to thrive right now, what would you decide? That answer alone can reveal a lot.
Which gets more of your self-investment?
In this life, anything worth having is worth investing into. To invest is “to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something”. As someone who works with couples often, if there’s one mistake that I see often, it’s a pattern of two people investing to get to a certain point and place in their relationship—like engaged, for example—and then, once that goal is reached, folks get lazy. This is why it’s so important to constantly set short and long-term goals in long-term relationships. Otherwise, you could find yourself becoming stagnant and stagnant things typically become dormant and then…die.
In fact, this is a huge part of the reason why a lot of individuals seem to do better in their professional life over their personal one. In their career, goals constantly exist which motivates them to keep going forward. If you don’t have any goals in your relationship, I can already tell you which thing gets more of your investment efforts—whether you realize it or not. Definitely something to think about.
Which makes you happier?
I’m gonna be honest with y’all—I’m not the biggest fan of the “do whatever makes you happy” motto for how to live one’s life. Before you wanna offer up some pushback, the reason why is because, a part of what comes with being an adult is understanding that certain things don’t always make us happy (at least not initially or all of the time). Still, they need to be done. Who’s “happy” paying bills? Who’s “happy” about making sacrifices to get certain things accomplished? Who’s “happy” about breaking certain habits in order to live a more fulfilling life?
So, when I ask what makes you happier, it needs to go on record that I’m not talking about pure elated emotion here. A synonym for happy is content and that’s the lane that I’m coasting in as it relates to this particular question. Content is about being satisfied and satisfied is about believing that your needs are fulfilled. You feel where I’m going with this, right? When it comes to your job vs. your man—where do you feel the most fulfilled? Second question, wherever that is, how much of it had to do with my prior question—the investments that you made to make it all happen?
There’s a natural inclination for a lot of us to want to be where we are the happiest. Yet whether it’s work or pleasure, satisfaction doesn’t “just happen”. If you’re currently happier professionally, is that because you put more into that area of your life? If it’s your man, is it because you’ve been clear about your needs and he’s been meeting them (and vice versa) which ultimately led to contentment? There are layers to this “Which do you love more?” thing. Trust me.
Which has more of a payoff?
I don’t care how healthy or toxic something may be, a huge part of the reason we remain in it is there’s some sort of pay off. Take junk food as an example. You might tell yourself every day that you need to stay out of drive-thrus and cook more. Yet if that never happens, even though it’s taking a toll on your health and wallet (and believe me, it’s doing both), there is still some sort of pay off going on. Maybe it’s the convenience. Maybe you’ve got a low-key sugar addiction and it’s your fix. Maybe you’re such a workaholic that you don’t really feel like you “treat yourself” any other way than consuming some French fries and a shake. You know what? Until cooking at home is a bigger payoff, there is a huge chance that you will remain in your current eating pattern.
When it comes to your professional life vs. your relationship, it’s also common to be more elated by what’s giving you the greater payoff. Do you feel more appreciated at work or in your relationship? Do you see more progress at work or in your relationship? Is there more of a give/take balance at work or in your relationship? This is why affirmations are so important. We are naturally wired to think that wherever we are benefitting most, that is where we want to be. Where is that for you right now? Where is your payoff? Be honest (with yourself) about the answer.
Which comes with less regret?
One more, OK? People who know me know that I generally don’t trust people who say that they have no regrets in life. Regret means remorse and unless you are perfect (and you’re not), you should definitely have things that you either wish you could’ve done differently or you feel sad about; something that you want to become more compassionate towards in the future.
Along these lines, as it relates to your job vs. your man—where do more regrets fall? Have you made more mistakes in your career or in your relationship? If you desire to have a man someday, are there regrets you’ve got when it comes to your past patterns, approaches, or mindset? What do you wish you had devoted more of yourself to so that you could be in a different space now with it—or him?
I don’t mind regret because it’s a humbling process. When you channel out the energy properly, it’s all about acknowledging what you’ve done (or didn’t do) so that you can make better choices in the future.
Now, here’s what I hope comes from this lil’ exercise. What you are more attached to, find balance. What is getting the shorter end of the stick? Now you (better) know what could be causing that to happen so that you can put more of your energy and focus into it.